Jakarta governor grilled over blasphemy allegations
JAKARTA’S Christian governor was questioned by police yesterday for the first time since being named a suspect in a blasphemy investigation seen by critics as a test of religious tolerance in Indonesia.
Police are pursuing allegations that Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, insulted the Koran, an offence that carries a jail sentence in the world’s most populous Muslim majority country.
The allegations have sparked much anger among Muslims – both moderate and hardline – with more than 100,000 taking to the streets of Jakarta earlier this month demanding Mr Purnama be prosecuted.
Mr Purnama – Jakarta’s first nonMuslim leader in half a century and a member of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority – declined to comment as he arrived for questioning at national police headquarters.
But his spokesperson Ruhut Sitompul said Mr Purnama would continue to cooperate with police, who have ordered the governor not to leave the country.
President Joko Widodo met political figures this week to bolster support before further rallies planned in coming weeks by religious groups.
The massive demonstration earlier this month turned violent as hardliners torched vehicles and attacked police, forcing Mr Widodo to cancel a trip abroad to manage the crisis.
Police have vowed to crack down on hardliners who try to use future rallies to stoke violence.
The naming of Mr Purnama as a suspect means authorities believe they have enough evidence to consider filing charges.
He stoked anger in September when accusing his opponents of using a Koranic verse, which suggests Muslims should not choose non-Muslims as leaders, in order to trick people into voting against him.
Mr Purnama has apologised but pledged not to pull out of the Jakarta election in February. –
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is accused of insulting the Koran.